I wrote my will last night…
In bed. In my head. But I will put it down on paper, just as soon as I get up the energy to get up.
Yes, I have some of my affairs in order. Several years ago, I asked my sister to go with me to prepare living trusts. That’s the thing you need if you own property and don’t want your will to go to probate. Probate is a pain in the ass for the person(s) left behind. If I die before my sister (and it’s likely I will, since I’m quite a bit older), she’s already going to have grief and many other pains in the ass, so why not remove some of them, if I can? I also wanted her to have her own trust, to help me in case she’s the first to go—because one never knows, right? I could be an old lady having to deal with it all. So we did the trusts.
But I had never gotten around to doing the will part. That’s where you identify things such as what to do with your personal belongings, your body, whether you want a memorial, etc. I did have a fantasy of what I ‘hoped for’ (Ha!) I pictured myself dying either at home or in some facility nearby. I wanted my sister to take the things that she wanted, and then have a party at my house. Invite my friends. Serve food and alcohol. Play Motown and Santana. Share stories about time spent together. And then choose items from my stuff that they like or need—photos, plants, furniture, kitchen ware, books, art, music. They could enjoy these things, and there would be less for my sister to dispose of.
But unless I die soon—and that is not the desired outcome, either—it’s unlikely that it will go that way. I am planning to move north to be closer to my sister, the only one left of my nuclear family. I know a couple of people there, but most of my friends from SoCal would likely be unable to come. I still want a will to make it easy for my sister to know what to do.
Why did I let this go until 3:00 a.m. last night? Because my own mortality was not actually real to me. In spite of my advancing age (I know: we’re all advancing—but you know what I mean), I’m pretty healthy. The worst thing is that spinal problems have limited my mobility somewhat. But that’s not going to kill me.
What might kill me? The novel coronavirus, that’s what. COVID-19. A global pandemic worse than any I’ve ever seen. If I’ve even seen a global pandemic. Maybe HIV/AIDS. And COVID-19 is a lot easier to transmit than HIV. To contract HIV, one must allow one of only four body fluids (blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk) into one’s own “portal of entry” (bloodstream, wounds, mucous membranes). Avoid a few behaviors (I’m not going to say simple behaviors, because sexuality is not simple), and if you do, you won’t get HIV. But to get COVID-19, all one has to do is touch something, or breathe.
I touch things constantly. I breathe on a regular basis.
And I see how quickly this disease progression can go. One day you’re healthy. The next day you’re not. The next you’re in the hospital. The next you’re in the ICU. The day after that, you’re dead. So many dead. Not enough body bags for all the dead. Not enough refrigerated trucks for all the dead. Families trapped at home with their decomposing dead. Unthinkable.
You know what else is dead? Right now, my faith in the democracy of my country. Oh, I’ve always known it was flawed. There’s been racism, sexism, unscrupulous politicians, corporate greed. Two steps forward and one step back throughout our history. Even when we had our first African-American president, young black men and women were being shot dead in the street by police officers who’d promised to protect and serve.
But what has happened to allow a failed ‘businessman’ (and isn’t that an oxymoron)—with six bankruptcies, thievery from charities (CHARITIES!), a draft dodger, a man who says “grab ‘ (women) by the pussy,” who has many sexual assault charges, who makes fun of disabled people and war heroes, who rejects science, who pretends to be Christian, who won’t allow refugees into our country (MY BELOVED GRANDFATHER WAS A REFUGEE, YOU MOTHERFUCKER), who puts children in cages (CHILDREN!), whose stupidity and inaction and obsession with what? his TV ratings! has let COVID-19 ravage our populace, and perhaps worst of all, whose constant buttlicking of business interests that remove environmental protections while climate change takes us all to our ultimate doom—how such a person could become President of the United States I will never understand.
Yes, I know the factors. Voter suppression. Gerrymandering. Russian election interference. Uneducated voters who mostly don’t even know what those clandestine activities are about. They just thought they wanted “something different.” Well, friends, you got it. We all got it. Along with the biggest stock market drop ever. The highest national debt. The most convicted appointees. The most pandemic infections in the world. So much winning.
I saw a meme on Facebook that said ‘Why would one lose a friend over politics? Because it isn’t about politics. It’s about morality.” I don’t want to lose any friends, but it is about morality, or as I think of it, a philosophy of life. One of my UCLA public health professors explained the difference between Republicans and Democrats this way: Republicans believe that this is a country of opportunity for everyone. Everyone starts at 0 and has the same chance to pull themselves up. Democrats say that would be fine if everyone really started at 0 and had the same chances, but they don’t. Some start in the negative numbers and continue to face lifelong barriers. My philosophy of living is that people who have more need to lend a hand to those who have less. Justice, fairness, kindness: that’s my philosophy and my morality, too.
Now I will make my will. I will listen to science over snake oil salesmen. I will self-quarantine because of my age. I will vote (Democrat, of course). And maybe I’ll try to regain hope that my country can still get its head out of its ass—someday.
(Art work created or inspired by Shepard Fairey)